Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jazz as Freedom? (Tomasz Stanko)

Wynton Marsalis and many others have consistently positioned jazz as the sound of freedom, as virtually synonymous with political freedom and even indicative of a free society (ever been to a jazz club in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan?)

So it's always interesting when a high-profile musician, one raised in a country that was anything but free, says something similar.

That's the case with acclaimed Polish-born trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, profiled in today's New York Times. He first heard jazz more than 50 years ago.

"The message was freedom," he told critic Nate Chinen. "For me, as a Polish who was living in Communist country, jazz was synonym of Western culture, of freedom, of this different style of life."

Stanko's latest CD, on ECM, is Lontano, which Chinen describes as "a haunting, suitelike effort, with Mr. Stanko's trumpet as the running thread. But it is more restless than its predecessors; often it assumes an avant-garde elasticity evocative of Mr. Stanko's earlier, freedom-seeking recording."

The album is "startling," according to a review in the All-Music Guide: "Lontano showcases a band confident enough after playing for five years to find real space for free improvisation. Recorded in the south of France instead of Oslo, producer Manfred Eicher works his name magic and allows stillness and silence to play as much a role as the performers engaging one another musically.

Sounds intriguing...

Stanko, according to the NYT story, is on a 12-city U.S. tour.

The last stop is New York, with a four-night engagement at Birdland. Too bad that's a plane flight away.

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